Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly American country music stage concert in Nashville, founded on November 28, 1925, by George D. Hay as a one-hour radio "barn dance" on WSM. Owned and operated by Opry Entertainment, it is the longest-running radio broadcast in US history. Dedicated to honoring country music and its history, the Opry showcases a mix of famous singers and contemporary chart-toppers performing country, Americana and gospel music as well as comedic performances and skits, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world and millions of radio and internet listeners. The Opry's current primary slogan is "The Show That Made Country Music Famous." Other slogans include "Home of American Music" and "Country's Most Famous Stage" and most "The Mother Church of Country Music." In the 1930s, the show expanded to four hours. Broadcasting by at 50,000 watts, WSM made the program a Saturday night musical tradition in nearly 30 states. In 1939, it debuted nationally on NBC Radio.

The Opry moved to a permanent home, the Ryman Auditorium, in 1943. As it developed in importance, so did the city of Nashville, which became America's "country music capital." The Grand Ole Opry holds such significance in Nashville, included as a "home of" mention on the welcome signs seen by motorists at the Metro Nashville/Davidson County line. Membership in the Opry remains one of country music's crowning achievements. Since 1974, the show has been broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry House east of downtown Nashville, with an annual three-month winter foray back to the Ryman since 1999. In addition to the radio programs, performances have been sporadically televised over the years; the Grand Ole Opry started as the WSM Barn Dance in the new fifth-floor radio studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company in downtown Nashville on November 28, 1925. On October 17, 1925, management began a program featuring "Dr. Humphrey Bate and his string quartet of old-time musicians." On November 2, WSM hired long-time announcer and program director George D. Hay, an enterprising pioneer from the National Barn Dance program at WLS in Chicago, named the most popular radio announcer in America as a result of his radio work with both WLS and WMC in Memphis, Tennessee.

Hay launched the WSM Barn Dance with 77-year-old fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson on November 28, 1925, that date is celebrated as the birth date of the Grand Ole Opry. Some of the bands on the show during its early days included Bill Monroe, the Possum Hunters, the Fruit Jar Drinkers with Uncle Dave Macon, the Crook Brothers, the Binkley Brothers' Dixie Clodhoppers, Sid Harkreader, DeFord Bailey, Fiddlin' Arthur Smith, the Gully Jumpers. Judge Hay liked the Fruit Jar Drinkers and asked them to appear last on each show because he wanted to always close each segment with "red hot fiddle playing." They were the second band accepted with the Crook Brothers being the first. When the Opry began having square dancers on the show, the Fruit Jar Drinkers always played for them. In 1926, Uncle Dave Macon, a Tennessee banjo player who had recorded several songs and toured on the vaudeville circuit became its first real star; the phrase "Grand Ole Opry" was first uttered on radio on December 10, 1927. At the time, the NBC Red Network's Music Appreciation Hour, a program with classical music and selections from grand opera, was followed by Barn Dance.

Opry presenter George Hay introduced the programme: For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken from Grand Opera. From now on, we will present the "Grand Ole Opry." As audiences for the live show increased, National Life & Accident Insurance's radio venue became too small to accommodate the hordes of fans. They built a larger studio. After several months with no audiences, National Life decided to allow the show to move outside its home offices. In October 1934, the Opry moved into then-suburban Hillsboro Theatre before moving to the Dixie Tabernacle in East Nashville on June 13, 1936; the Opry moved to the War Memorial Auditorium, a downtown venue adjacent to the State Capitol, a 25-cent admission fee was charged to try to curb the large crowds, but to no avail. In June 1943, the Opry moved to Ryman Auditorium. One hour of the Opry was nationally broadcast by the NBC Red Network from 1939 to 1956, for much of its run, it aired one hour after the program that had inspired it, National Barn Dance.

The NBC segment known by the name of its sponsor, The Prince Albert Show, was first hosted by Acuff, succeeded by Red Foley from 1946 to 1954. From October 15, 1955 to September 1956, ABC-TV aired a live, hour-long television version once a month on Saturday nights that pre-empted one hour of the then-90-minute Ozark Jubilee. From 1955 to 1957, Al Gannaway owned and produced both The Country Show and Stars of the Grand Ole Opry, both filmed programs syndicated by Flamingo Films. Gannaway's Stars of the Grand Ole Opry was the first television show shot in color. On October 2, 1954, a teenage Elvis Presley had his only Opry performance. Although the audience reacted politely to his revolutionary brand of rockabilly music, Opry manager Jim Denny told Presley's producer Sam Phillips after the show that the singer's style did not suit the program. In the 1960s, as the hippie counterculture movement spread, the Opry maintained a strait-laced, conservative image with "longhairs" not being featured on the show.

The Byrds were a notable exception. Country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, a member of The Byrds at the time, was in Nashville to work on the band's country rock album, Sweet

Hannington Hall, Wiltshire

Hannington Hall is a Grade II* listed country house in the village of Hannington, England. The house was built in 1653 by the Freke family, who had bought the estate in 1605, incorporates parts of a previous parsonage; the east front is of two and a half storeys in five bays, made of rubble with ashlar dressings. An orangery was added in 1836 and a service wing in 1863. An inscription below the front parapet celebrates the brotherly love of Raufe and William Freke, the sons of Sir Thomas Freke, the original owner; the house stands in 340 acres of pasture and woodland. Associated buildings such as the stable block, a well house, an ice house, the street wall and gate piers are all Grade II listed structures; the Hall passed down in the Freke family via Thomas Freke MP, his Socinian writer brother William Freke, the Hussey-Freke family. During the Second World War it was occupied by the female Auxiliary Units' Special Duties Section, known as the "Secret Sweeties", under the command of Senior Commander Beatrice Temple, to form part of the British resistance movement in the event of a German invasion.

GWR Hall class locomotive No 5930 was named after the hall. Flickr photos of the house

Women's Equality Party

The Women's Equality Party is a feminist political party set up in the United Kingdom in 2015. The idea was conceived by Catherine Mayer and Sandi Toksvig at the Women of the World Festival, when they concluded that there was a need for a party to campaign for gender equality to the benefit of all; the launch meeting was on 28 March 2015 under the title. But not as much as you need the Women's Equality Party"; the party's full policy was launched by its leader, Sophie Walker, at Conway Hall, on 20 October 2015. In January 2020, Mandu Reid took over as party leader. On 2 March 2015, author and journalist Catherine Mayer attended a "Women in Politics" event at the Women of the World Festival; the panel was chaired by Jude Kelly, the panel consisted of Katie Ghose, Margot James, Stella Creasy and Jo Swinson. Having watched the panelists agreeing collegially with each other on every point, Mayer stood up and said, "What about if I found a Women's Equality Party, tell you what, I'm going to go to the bar afterwards, anyone interested in discussing this come and see me."On 8 March 2015, at the same festival, comedian Sandi Toksvig presented an event entitled "Sandi Toksvig's Mirth Control: Stand Up and Be Counted".

Interviewed by Jenni Murray on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, Toksvig said: "I had a fantasy cabinet of women, I didn't care which party they came from, we had Doreen Lawrence as our Home Secretary. Can you imagine anything more wonderful? We had paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson as our Sports Minister, I asked them to put forward practical suggestions; the world is in a parlous state, 9.1 million women failed to vote in the last election, we need to attract them, we need to attract the more than 7 million men who didn't vote. Why are people not engaged in politics, because I don't think that the people standing represent the diversity of this country." Mayer phoned Toksvig, the two agreed to become co-founders of the party. The first meeting of the as yet unnamed party was on 28 March 2015. Speakers included: Suzanne Moore, who had stood for parliament as an independent candidate; the meeting was covered on Woman's Hour and by the press, including Glamour magazine and the London Evening Standard. A second meeting took place at Conway Hall on 18 April, included Sandi Toksvig, Mandy Colleran, Nimko Ali, Shabnam Shabazi and Stella Duffy as speakers.

On 30 April, Toksvig announced that she was leaving her position as compère of Radio 4's The News Quiz in order to help set up the new political party, now named the Women's Equality Party. Speaking at the Hay Festival in May, Toksvig reported that since she had announced the move on BBC One's The One Show, she had been subjected to a significant level of abuse online; the Women's Equality Party was registered with the Electoral Commission on 20 July 2015. On 22 July, Reuters journalist Sophie Walker was announced as the party's first leader; the party announced its first leadership contest in December 2017. Nominations opened on 5 January 2018, closed on 24 January. Two candidates were nominated: interim leader Sophie Walker and Magda Devas, who had run for the Green Party in the Streatham Wells ward in the Lambeth London Borough Council election of 2010 and that of 2014; the ballot opened on 14 February 2018, closed on 6 March. Walker was due to serve a five-year term until 2023, but stepped down from her role as leader in January 2019.

She was replaced by interim leader Mandu Reid, the party's national spokesperson on equal parenting and caregiving, its candidate in the 2018 Lewisham East by-election, the CEO of period poverty charity The Cup Effect. The party's mission statement opens with: "Equality for women isn't a women's issue; when women fulfil their potential, everyone benefits. Equality means better politics, a more vibrant economy, a workforce that draws on the talents of the whole population and a society at ease with itself". Describing the six aims Mayer said, "It's a narrow palette, we're not looking to be a party that can answer questions about what should be done in the Ukraine, or trying to have a platform on the environment or anything else, we are focusing narrowly on that equality agenda." Party leader Walker agreed: "We won't have policies on other issues. We are going to concentrate, laser-like, on all of the above, and we will welcome people from any other political party that agrees with our values of diversity and inclusivity to work with us."

However, Walker promised that the party's working definition of the word "woman", as well as more detail of the party's policies, would be covered in its policy launch, following consultation with party members. Early indications of what to expect included Walker's call for a gender quota system to select MPs at the following two elections so that equal representation could be achieved in the House of Commons by 2025. Walker called for six weeks' paid leave, at 90% pay, for both parents after having a baby, as well as an extra 10 months of shared leave at statutory pay. Writing in the Daily Mirror, Toksvig stated that the party further proposed that industrial tribunal costs be reduced from over £1,000 to "£50 for those who can afford it" in order to "empower all women to speak out about sexism at work."The party launched its full set of policies on 20